Don't forget! If you want to be included in this one, you need to post a comment before midnight.
Monday, 30 November 2009
Back in late September this year, I stumbled across a TV programme called 'Everwood' on E4. It looked interesting - centred on a widowed neurosurgeon who had moved with his son and daughter from New York to a small town in Colorado to begin a new life. I like "The Archers" and I like "Lake Wobegon" on the radio - the storylines set in a small community are usually easy to follow. There is a small pool of main characters and I got into the series very quickly.
When I discovered it, E4 had only shown a few episodes, and I quickly caught on. I set the recorder to tape each day's programmes, and then 'speedwatched' them later as I knitted and sewed my Christmas gifts. In under 3 months, I have watched the entire thing - by showing it daily, E4 got through four series very quickly - and now it has finished. Two TV stations merged and they just stopped making it!! E4 airs the last episode today. I will never know what happened to all those people...
And it is probably a good thing for me that it is over- all the gifts are finished now, and I do not have time for 38 minutes of mindless TV each afternoon [an hour's programmes includes a lot of opening credits and ad breaks which you can easily miss out. But had to stop using "FF>>x32 " during the Advert breaks though. It went too fast for me and I kept missing crucial bits of the plot!
If you missed it completely - imagine a cross between 'Doctor Finlay' [Scottish 1962-1971] and 'A Country Practice' [Australian 1981-1993] but set in Colorado [American 2002-2006]
Am I the only person who has been watching this in the UK? I have asked around, and nobody knows what I am on about! Apart from Steph, who is very media savvy, and said "That's the thing with doctors in beards and plaid shirts isn't it?"
Not sure I shall watch much TV over the next few weeks - but recording Flash Forward, Spooks and Delia Smith anyway!
Sunday, 29 November 2009
Spent part of last night sitting in an armchair as I had developed a cough which worsened when I lay down. Bob had been out and got me some throat spray on Saturday morning, and I was feeling a bit sorry for myself when he brought me a cup of tea first thing! He wasn't much better himself- I think we are both succumbing to colds.
However I drove off to my preaching engagement - and was cheered by the sight of a rainbow ahead of me. The congregation at the church I was visiting was small in number, but welcoming. The organist was a visitor too. "I help out when they are short" he said. He told me he lived in Dibley. "Ah, they have no Baptist minister at the moment" I said. "No - and no Baptist Church either" he retorted gruffly. I decided not to point out that they did have a Baptist Church, but not a building! The church is alive and well, and worshipping in a local school. But I didn't want to antagonise the only musician on a theological issue before we began worship, and decided to save my voice for preaching with. But I did feel a little sad at his perception of the situation.
The congregation were very responsive and sang enthusiastically - and they had decorated their chapel already with much gold tinsel, red and white silk poinsettias, and a tree, and a crib, Advent wreath, and lots of those candle bridges on the windowsills [Bob calls them 'Baptist Menorahs'!]
I have tried to take things easy this afternoon, still coughing quite a bit and throat very sore. But hey-ho, lots of people are suffering much more, this is just a cold.
I wore my best black leather boots today [this picture is from the Internet, but mine are just like this] because it was cold and wet and I wasn't sure how far it was to walk from the car park to the chapel. I am very fond of them, but they are about 18 years old now. They still look ok when polished. This resulted in what you might call a "Jack Sprat" moment.
FAT - since 1990, I am afraid my calves have got fatter, and they were a little bit tight at the top. Must work on that!
THIN- the soles are so thin now, I think I could "stand on a threepenny bit and tell you if it was heads or tails" as my grandfather would have said! Must get them to the cobblers.
Bob has gone out to church without me this evening. I could not face going and being totally unable to join in the hymns. I have been reading through the Advent reflections posted by people who have joined in the Event set up by my thoughtful friend Floss [here]
Sounds like they had a good time at our church this morning - the Worship Group led the service, around the theme of Four Candles/Fork 'Andles.[ Ancient British Comedy sketch - check here if you do not know it!]
Tomorrow the man is coming to shampoo the carpets. I'm hoping it will still be possible for me to nip out to the shops at some point - our Sainsburys has just re-opened following a massive refurbishment, and the Borders on the same site has just started its Closing Down Sale. [I wonder where the Knitting Group will meet now?]
I have been pondering about what to write since Floss challenged us [here] to share our thoughts on the four weekends in Advent. Advent means 'coming' or 'arrival' and in the Church Calendar it marks out that time in which we prepare ourselves to celebrate both the coming of Jesus as a baby to Bethlehem, and His Second Coming when He will wind up history and all creation will acknowledge Him as King.
As a child, I remember preachers often ending services with benedictions which included the words "Till Jesus comes or calls". Slightly puzzled, I asked Mum about this - surely it is the same thing? "I expect the minister will call round later" means exactly the same as "I expect the minister will come round later" - doesn't it?
Mum explained to me that in one sense the words did mean the same, but used in this context, Christians were using a sort of code [which, she explained, deeply sound people call "The Language Of Zion" in the belief it makes them seem Very Holy!]
When Jesus Comes means "The Second Coming, End Of Time, Gabriel blows his trumpet - and Jesus comes for everybody"
When Jesus Calls means "When He calls a person by name,and says 'time's up for you - this night your soul is required of you' - the moment of death for an individual
Mum went on to point out that none of us knows what lies ahead- that when the preacher said that, he was reminding us that before the next Sunday service, Jesus could return in Glory and we would all be with Him [He had come for us] - or maybe we would be back next Sunday, but realise that there was a space in the pew in front because one of our friends had died that week [He had called for them]
So that, concluded Mum, is the preacher's way of reminding us to be ready - to live for Jesus every day in the week, to use every opportunity to share His love with people, to remember that our time on this earth is limited, and to make the best use of it for Him. And she quoted one of her favourite mottoes "Only one life, 'twill soon be past - only what's done for Jesus will last"
On Friday I went into school with Tom our Village Rector to present some awards for the winners of the Village Christmas Card Competition [amusing moment when a colleague saw me with Man-In-Dog-Collar and said "Hello Ang, Hello Bob" and we had to explain he was another clergyman and not my spouse!!] The children were singing a piece in three parts - each group singing a different song although they harmonised beautifully together. The whole thing sums up beautifully the three ideas of my reflection - He may call for me, He will come for me, and when and until He does, I want to praise and serve Him.
1 - Swing low, sweet chariot, comin' for to carry me home;
Swing low, sweet chariot, comin' for to carry me home.
2 - Oh, when the Saints go marching in,
Oh, when the Saints go marching in,
Lord, I want to be in that number,
When the Saints go marching in.
3 - I'm gonna sing, I'm gonna dance, Hallelujah!
Saturday, 28 November 2009
And after getting technical advice on the whole process from Steph, combine with a pack of transfer paper [reduced to clear in Staples] Print out the design, and iron in place
So if life gets too frantic, at least he will know where he is supposed to be on any given day!
Friday, 27 November 2009
Actually he isn't so much a lumberjack as a 'tree maintenance person' and he has come to our neighbours' house opposite, to fit the Christmas Lights in their tree. It will look lovely tonight, when it is illuminated. I just couldn't resist taking a picture of him silhouetted against the afternoon sky!
Every year Peter and Pat host an Open Air Carol Singing Event on the grass outside their home, in aid of a local charity - and the atmosphere is great. A local folk band plays the music, another neighbour, Camille, provides refreshments, and Bob is the compere and provides PA [and Carol Sheets]
It is really great to be involved in a neighbourhood activity like this [not one of the many Christmas Events that's arranged by the church] and I appreciate the time, effort and money that P&P put into organising it each December.
This Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent, and normally I would be thinking about getting our lights and decorations down from the loft - but the window replacement and carpet cleaning planned for early next week means the festive stuff will have to wait a bit!
Thursday, 26 November 2009
One of my pupils has just been to Tunisia with her parents - and kindly brought a postcard back for me. It is the sort of picture that cries out for a caption, don't you think?
What do you call a camel with three humps? **
Oooh, it makes you want to spit!
Don't I look cool in these Ray-bans?
Actually, I think they are pondering on the feeble nature of human beings who cannot go for very long without liquid. This morning I was due for a blood test - so was told not to have anything to eat or drink from 8pm last night. The very fact of being forbidden stuff made me crave food and drink even more!
Things got further complicated at 9.30pm last night, when we heard from Steph that she was about to go into hospital, as her condition was even worse than it had been at 1.30am on Monday. I knew I had to be sensible, and not leap into the car and hurtle 100 miles down the motorway - but my three usual sources of reassurance [ prayer, hugs from Bob and many cups of tea] were limited to just prayer-and-hugs.
I am happy to report that the intravenous antibiotics administered at St Thomas' Hospital have done their stuff, and she should be back at her place shortly. I am extremely grateful to her big sister, boyfriend and housemate who have all been very supportive, and not only looked after Steph this week but also kept me up to date with medical bulletins.
I am also grateful for the British NHS- in the past seven days, between us, Bob, Steph and I have notched up two doctor's appointments, two lots of blood tests, a physio session, a chest X-ray, two prescriptions, and a hospital stay - with minimum waiting and minimum financial cost. We must never take this sort of thing for granted - I am acutely aware that many of my friends in other parts of the world either have to foot the bills for medical care themselves - or do not even have access to the facilities available to us [As far as I am aware, the fourth member of the family, Liz, is fit and well, and I am praying she stays that way!]
Thinking of our healthcare v. the American system, prompts me to say Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends 'Over There' - may the holiday time you spend with your loved ones be truly happy and blessed.
Now I am hoping that things will quieten down a little over the next couple of days - my texting thumb is quite exhausted from tapping out frantic messages to the family. And the car passed its MOT test without having anything extra done [hallelujah!] and I found all the things I mislaid earlier in the week [housekeys, folder of schoolwork, library books...]
And finally, a camel joke, before I prepare a meal [and yet another pot of tea]...
A mother and baby camel are talking one day when the baby camel asks, "Mum why have I got these huge three toed feet?" The mother replies, "Well son, when we trek across the desert your toes will help you to stay on top of the soft sand". "OK" said the son.
A few minutes later the son asks, "Mum, why have I got these great long eyelashes?" "They are there to keep the sand out of your eyes on the trips through the desert" "Thanks Mum," replies the son.
After a short while, the son returns and asks, "Mom, why have I got these great big humps on my back??" The mother, now a little impatient with the boy replies, "They are there to help us store water for our long treks across the desert, so we can go without drinking for long periods."
"That's great Mum, so we have huge feet to stop us sinking, and long eyelashes to keep the sand from our eyes and these humps to store water, but... Mum?" "Yes son?"
"Why are we in London Zoo?"
My blog layout has inexplicably altered itself - I shall have to sort this out later. Apologies to any people trying to find things here!
** Humphrey of course!
Today is also Thanksgiving in the USA.
I shall have to celebrate all this with a blog giveaway! - put a comment between now and midnight Monday [i.e. before December] and I will pull a name out of the jester hat and send a bag of pre-Christmas goodies to someone.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Thirty six hours of rest and recuperation at Cornerstones - wonderful!
Although there were a few minor hiccups.
Like a very late phone call from Steph was was really quite poorly - and I felt so far away and wanted to be there for her and mother her properly.
Like Bob saying at 4am "Are you awake, darling?" [Well I am now!] "Why is the window flashing?" - it was an ambulance, one of our neighbours was unwell.
Then the man came to quote for loft insulation. Under 8o square metres, there is a fixed price of £175. Over that the price rocketed - to £470! We went off to check Homebase, and builders' merchants etc to see if DIY was cheaper. Prices for rolls from these various sources varied between £56 and £650.
We ended up buying 14 rolls of this stuff [that meant two trips in a tightly packed car from Homebase to Cornerstones] and have just put the rolls into the loft for now.
Felt like the first Mrs Rochester, being a madwoman in the attic, as Bob passed all the rolls up the ladder. I must re-read Jane Eyre again [and The Wide Sargasso Sea, the very clever prequel by Jean Rhys]
The insulation can be unrolled and fitted properly next time!
As is usual when we are there, Bob went into full-on chef mode [OK, eggs and bacon isn't a great culinary masterpiece, but it I appreciate the break from cooking, and he really enjoys himself]
I hung the bunting!
Then after tea we watched a programme all about loft insulation! Very bizarre - it was from the very factory where our stuff had been made! Spooky!!!
We got back early this morning and went straight to work - Bob to his Study, me to the sewing machine [more on that later] Then after lunch I took the car for its MOT. I walked up into the City [against the wind - exhausting] and had a somewhat frustrating time trying to purchase the stuff on my list. You would have thought it would have been easy to find a new washing up bowl! Finally I succeeded.
Then I tried to buy a pack of cheap clothes pegs in the Pound Shop - only they had been reduced to 75p and the assistant could not get his till to print a receipt with that price on it!!
Also got all the stuff I wanted for family Christmas gifts. Eventually.
Leicester is looking wonderfully Christmassy
...but I did think Santa's Grotto in the Highcross was very poorly lit. I am not sure if I was a parent I would let my little one in there!
All year they tell the children to avoid strange men, then suddenly, mothers are encouraging children to sit on the lap of a strangely dressed bloke with a long cotton wool beard.
I missed the bus I wanted and so was very late getting back. Bob had put jacket potatoes in, which was helpful [I bought some lovely sausages to go with them] - and I have spent the evening preparing Sunday's sermon whilst he went out pastoral visiting.
And now I am going to watch CSI and then sleep!
Monday, 23 November 2009
Sometimes when you are juggling too many things at once, you don't just drop one of them - the whole lot goes crashing to the ground!
Like Sunday morning - an even busier than usual Sunday. I was trying to stir the porridge. and make a pot of tea, and unloading the dishwasher [all at the same time] when I noticed that everything coming out of the d/w was dirty.
I am really grateful for my d/w - it usually gets everything really clean, using less water than I could be hand, and saves me time and energy. But when it doesn't work, it somehow seems to make the crockery even dirtier, baking on the the morning porridge and the even hot chocolate.
Bob arrived in the kitchen for breakfast, all smart in his best suit. He bent down and tried to spin the d/w rotor arm. He declared it to be stuck. "Leave it" I said "Breakfast's ready" So he spun it again - and water drops flew everywhere!
I quickly retrieved two mugs and bowls, washed them by hand, and we ate breakfast. Then he went off to his study to continuing preparing for worship.
I unloaded everything from the d/w onto the worktops, then decided it would all benefit from a soak in hot soapy water [with two denture tablets added for extra cleansing] I fetched a second washing up bowl from the Utility Room. Nowhere to put it. So I placed it on the only clear space [the hob]
That was when I realised I had left the gas ring on when I removed the porridge saucepan! [Quick chorus of "There's a hole in my bucket, dear Lisa...."]
Bob said "There's nothing like the smell of napalm first thing in the morning" and "Which Care Home was it you wanted to go into, dear?"
We laughed and went off to church. Kay wanted to know if I had taken a photo for the blog. Well I have now, Kay! Although if my camera had been to hand earlier, I might have photographed the flames as well!!
Church was brilliant, and Deb's Sunday School class were doing the story of elderly Jacob travelling to Egypt to be reconciled with Joseph. They made fabulous tents [biscuits] on sand [brown sugar] and grass [coloured desiccated coconut] with jelly baby men. The text [just visible] written round the plate reads "God will take care of you". Aren't they brilliant?
Home for lunch, and the re-run d/w seems to be OK now.
A busy afternoon [doing stuff for Adapt, the premature baby charity] and now church then off to Cornerstones - 36 hours of rest before the nonstop Christmas programme begins.
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Bob commented on the lovely red and green foliage and the rich red berries on some of the bushes in the garden, so I went outside with secateurs to cut some for a vase in the lounge.
It does look wonderfully festive.
The bark on the silver birch is beautiful
The hardy fuchsia is in flower too. This was a gift some years ago from our friends George and Ellen. George died this past summer, but the blooms will always remind me of him. He was a tall gentleman, who was particularly fond of singing the old hymns.
I was about to go inside when I noticed something in the middle of the lawn. The grass is rather long at the moment, but there was one solitary flower right in the middle. I have no idea where it came from - we don't have any of these anywhere else on our patch!
We are not good gardeners- so these flowers are a joy and a blessing which we do not really deserve! Real gardeners know that you have to put effort in if it is to continue to blossom.
As Kipling said
"Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made, by saying "Oh how beautiful!" and sitting in the shade"
But life's rather busy at the minute, so there is less "Hoe, hoe, hoe" and more "Ho! Ho! Ho!"
Saturday, 21 November 2009
Friday was almost non-stop sewing. I sewed some costumes for the youngest children at school who are doing a Christmas Production.
I am not altogether sure where these vehicles fit into the Nativity Story. I mean, had they been aeroplanes, it would have been the Flight Into Egypt [with Pontius the Pilate!]
I think this may be another story altogether
Then I cut out lots of stockings. It was amazing to realise how many different pieces of 'Christmas Fabric' I have in the Great Stash
Then I made some Christmas bunting - some to take to Cornerstones, and some for Liz...
I assembled all my other bits and pieces for the fete and fell into bed extremely late.
The Fete today went well - but I think there were far fewer people there than last year, and everybody seemed to feel they had done less business on their stalls. But I had some great conversations with children and parents and dished out lots of flyers for the Panto at Church [ Saltmine Theatre Co are coming to do "Treasure Island"]
I embroidered quite a few bibs and facecloths and wondered at the amazing names people give their children!
When I got home, after a rest, I went into the loft to retrieve the Jesse Tree and a few more bits to take to Cornerstones. We've decided not to over-decorate [especially as we don't actually go till Dec 27th, which is after Christmas] but we thought it would be good to put wreaths on the doors and just a few little festive touches.
In the box labelled "Wreaths" I found something I had forgotten about - last January, in IKEA's sale, I got a straw wreath for just 50p
It was worth that for the basket it is in - but I need to decorate it a little. It will have to hang inside, it is in no way weatherproof. I shall leave it out for a few days and wait for inspiration to strike!
But now I must get some sleep!
Friday, 20 November 2009
This is the spice rack Liz picked up for a song at a local Church Fete.
The picture shows the rack after she sanded and repainted it. [Apologies for the poor quality of the photo - it came via various mobile phones to my PC.] I think it looks very smart - and will no doubt get plenty of use in Liz's kitchen. She's asked me to make some labels for the spices and will then send me another picture to post on the blog.
Her chosen spices are these...
I must admit that there are quite a few there which I have never used.
I have been doing lots of sewing today - including another project Liz asked me about. Will post photos later about all that.
What is your favourite spice? I love nutmeg, and have a very old nutmeg grater - I enjoy grating nutmeg into hot drinks, milk puddings and mashed potato. I'm also quite fond of sprinkling smoked paprika into savoury dishes [I keep that in a pretty little tin I got when Liz took me to Budapest back in 2005] Christmas cooking is definitely redolent of cinnamon, and ginger belongs with cold winter nights - but is there a spice for the summer months?
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Last year at church we used some Advent notes by David Coffey which briefly mentioned the "Jesse Tree" - used by many Christians as an alternative to the more familiar Advent Calendar.
The Jesse Tree is decorated with symbols relating to the coming of the Messiah as foretold in Scripture - from Genesis through to the Gospels.
Above is a picture of one I made earlier! So this year I've prepared a whole month of bible notes entitled "Leaves from the Jesse Tree" round this theme, for members of our congregation. Just a simple thought, and a few verses, for each day of Advent, as we prepare our hearts for Christmas.
If you would like to use this material too, you should be able to download it by clicking the link below
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
They are particularly keen on the 'leaf' stitch on Ann's machine, sewn in a variegated thread, which you can see here on the bottom of Ellie's purse - and another variant of it below on the hem of Bethany's mat.
I got a new pair of scissors in John Lewis for the Club
We were greatly amused by the instructions on the back of the packaging...
..yes, you do need a pair of scissors to remove the scissors from the pack. Bit of a Catch 22 situation there, I think!
Bob has been equally busy. Among other things, today he was hosting the lunch for the local clergy. So he'd made a tureen of carrot and coriander soup for them. When I got home this evening, there was a bowl of soup and warm bread rolls waiting for me. A lovely treat on a cold autumn evening.
The man has been today to measure up for our new windows. It will be lovely to have the faulty ones replaced at last- but I am not at all sure that the first week in December will be a good time to have this done.
I shall just have to keep even busier and move about a lot more so I do not feel the cold. Lots of hot soup to be eaten that week, I think!
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Church Ads have a new Christmas poster. Here is the poster - and the accompanying article from their website. I do hope it gets lots of people talking!
Christmas starts here. In January churchgoers were dismayed by atheist bus adverts proclaiming that ‘There’s probably no God’.
They will be encouraged to hear that recent research by Theos reveals that 85% of people agree that ‘Christmas should be called Christmas because we are still a Christian country’. But, research also shows that only 12% of adults know the facts of the Christmas story in any detail – the figure dropping to just 7% amongst 18‐24 year olds. So, to keep Christmas focused on Christ, we need to constantly tell the story of his birth in ways which engage positively with the public.
Churches of all denominations are therefore being urged to participate in an advertising campaign: ‘Christmas Starts with Christ’. Posters on bus shelters feature a painting by the renowned artist, Andrew Gadd, depicting the traditional nativity scene in a modern day equivalent of a stable – a bus shelter. Radio commercials cleverly and light‐heartedly set the nativity in the context of a soccer match, a horse race, a police car chase and the Christmas pop chart countdown. The ads have been created by ChurchAds.net, an ecumenical charity comprising senior communications officers from the Anglican, Methodist and Baptist churches; plus the Church Army and Salvation Army, together with Christians from media and advertising organisations.
Church leaders have welcomed the campaign, urging churches to
participate. Nick Baines, Bishop of Croydon says: ‘This year’s atheist bus adverts backfired (for the atheists) by putting God on the public agenda and provoking people to ask if he is there. Well, Christians now have a chance to say a firm and confident ‘yes – and he looks like Jesus! Christmas is his festival.’
Visit www.ChurchAds.net for more information
Monday, 16 November 2009
Back in the early 1980's, Bob wrote his dissertation on DB, and as I typed it up I got to read a lot of stuff written by and about this amazing man. And I mean typed - in those pre-PC days it was all sheets of A4 in the typewriter, tapping away with my right hand, whilst my left arm cradled a new baby. Then Bob would get home, proof-read and edit the pages - and I would re-type the corrected stuff the next day. No cut-n-paste, or 'save changes to...'!
Whilst imprisoned by the Nazis, DB wrote a wedding day sermon for his niece, Renate, who was marrying another Pastor [DBs best friend and subsequent biographer, Eberhard Bethge] These words challenge me as much today as they did 25 years ago when I first read them...
God gives you Christ as the foundation of your marriage. ‘Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God’ (Romans 15:7). In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.
Your home will be a pastor’s home. From it, light and strength will have to go out into many other homes. The pastor undertakes a life of special discipline. The husband must bear alone much that belongs to his ministry, since the ministry is his and must, for the sake of God, be a silent one. So his love for his wife must be all the greater, and he must be all the more concerned to share with her what he may. And as a result the wife will be able to lighten the husband’s burden all the more, stand by his side, give him help. As fallible human beings, how can they live and work in Christ’s community if they do not persevere in constant prayer and forgiveness, if they do not help each other to live as Christians? The right beginning and daily practice are very important indeed.
From the first day of your wedding till the last the rule must be: ‘Welcome one another… for the glory of God’.
That is God’s word for your marriage. Thank Him for it; thank Him for leading you thus far; ask Him to establish your marriage, to confirm it, sanctify it, and preserve it. So your marriage will be ‘for the praise of His glory’
We are being Very Careful at Church about spreading germs. The Meeters and Greeters at the door, and the Deacons serving Communion are taking extra care to use hand sanitizing gel, and there are dispensers of the stuff all over the premises.
It was even mentioned in The Notices before the services started yesterday [so we know it Must Be Important!]
Trouble is, I kept thinking of this WW2 poster...
and then I kept thinking of Tony Hancock...
My afternoon of Supply Teaching was cancelled and I am feeling a little light-headed. Perhaps I am going down with something!
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